Virtual Advent | My First Christmas

Virtual Advent | My First Christmas

I enjoyed Bridget’s Virtual Advent Christmas story and I thought, well… I have a sort of similar story to share. And although I do not remember any of this story, I have heard it told and re-told and re-told! Plus..I have the proof that it is true!

I have a cousin, Bill, who is 6 months younger than me. I had looked for a photo of the two of us together, but alas, I could not find one. Instead I found a photo of me when I was about 2-ish (I think!) That is the face of determination, Gentle Readers!

That haircut?? Courtesy of my dear Nana!

This story takes place all the way back in 1961… our (mine and Bill’s) first Christmas. I was almost 1 and Bill was just 6 months old. My mom had gotten him a small teddy bear for Christmas, but she made the fatal error in letting me see the gift before it was wrapped. As the story goes, I was obsessed with the wee bear. I asked about the bear lots…and lots…and lots! Out of sight did not mean out of my mind! So it should have come to no surprise that just as we were all getting ready to sit down to eat, I walked in with the little bear. (Personally, I think the quiet should have been a huge clanging warning bell, amirite?) however, as the story goes, I found the wrapped box under the tree and helped myself.

Then the battle began… my mother wanted me to give it to Bill and I was having none of it. They say there were all kinds of tears and yelling (me crying, my parents yelling…) until my nana weighed in. And in her immortal words, as she loved to retell it… “it’s your own damned fault,” she told my mother. My nana in her wisdom ended the fracas, I had the bear… Bill had the box (?? I honestly don’t know if poor Bill got anything from us that year!) and dinner started with no more arguing! Ha!

That bear though… he was the dearest little friend, and as you can see… he was very well loved. Today, he sits in my living room, a humorous reminder my first Christmas…

It just can’t be December without the Virtual Advent Tour!

I want to thank Sprite for hosting Virtual Advent… I love participating and even more; I love reading all of the posts!

 

Looking Back | November 2020

Looking Back | November 2020

November is chill, frosted mornings with a silver sun rising behind the trees, red cardinals at the feeders, and squirrels running scallops along the tops of the gray stone walls. — Jean Hersey

This quote is almost my November… while there are no gray stone walls here, the squirrels run races on the power lines as they hurry to bury another acorn or two!

I really like November. The skies are different, the air smells different, and the sunrises and sunsets have moved to new spots on the horizon. Outside it feels like everything is settling in as it tucks itself in for a well-deserved rest until spring. And this year my November very much felt like that…it had a different look, there were different smells, mornings start quietly, and evenings settle into a comfortable rhythm as we wind down the day.

It truly helped to focus on “living as if this is all there is” and better still, November brought the promise of a spring. It is much easier to be patient when you can begin to see the glimmer at the end of the tunnel!

Let’s look at my November in pictures!


The Best Part of the Month —

Hand’s down November 7th was the absolute best part of the month!

Something New —

PA had new voting machines, so I made sure I had the PA Voter Hotline number at the ready! We also had our first dusting of snow, our first hard frost, AND some new spinning!

Best “Oh, Wow” Moment/s —

The glowing patio thanks to the sun and a few leaves remaining on a bush… my picture on the 28th does not do it justice.

What I did well and What I can do better —

I am thinking about the future of these look back posts… several times during the month I reached the end of the day and realized that I did not take any photos that day. I feel this need to “get something” but… is that done well? or Can I do better? I am not sure. Lots to think about, but I will absolutely end the year with one more installment!

That was my November! I hope yours was good as well!

Now… a tiny post script… things are bad right now, Gentle Readers…hospitals workers are over their limit and many have reached their breaking point and there is no reprieve. We have reached the grim milestone that every minute 2 people die from coronavirus and we are not yet seeing the Thanksgiving peak. Honestly, if you can stay home, stay home. Get your groceries delivered… really. Do it, it is a necessary evil right now. We need to do everything we can to help hospitals not be full. Do some holiday decorating, and spend some time appreciating how lovely it all looks by staying AT HOME

Looking Back | October 2020

Looking Back | October 2020

I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers. —  Leif Enger, Peace Like a River

I love October, but this year it was a bit melancholy for me this year. Every year, pre-COVID, we head off to Michigan to spend a glorious chunk of time with my kids. There are trips to Lake Michigan, family meals, lots of laughter as we catch up with the things a phone call/FaceTime does not afford. We always go to the Empire Hops Festival with my son. None of those things happened. But it was still October.

I am going to talk about the differences that this October brought…and those differences were so good!

The first BIG difference was voting on the 10th of the month! This was a new experience for me and I confess, I love early voting and I plan on adding this to my October calendar next year!

I loved the multiple “Halloween” grands images! Pumpkin pants FTW! And what’s not to love about a cowgirl and her very own baby horse! LOL (But, those Dalmations on the 31st!! That one brought lots of tears, because of this:

Sam, Heidi, and Rachel – 3 of the 101 Dalmations!

The final different thing was our spur of the moment decision to head back to Erie at the end of the month. Steve has been trying to use up vacation days, but a day at a time really does not promote any sort of a mental health break. So, since we were not going to participate in handing out candy (or throwing out candy, as our Township determined… yep, stay at least 9′ away and throw candy at the Trick or Treaters) we headed to Erie for 5 glorious days. Things not captured in photos here… the birds. Wow. I saw so many familiar birds, including Pileated Woodpeckers, but we also saw birds I had never seen in the wild before like Bufflehead Ducks and Black-bellied Plovers. The weather was perfect, not warm and a bit rainy AND there were virtually no anywhere! We took Carolyn’s advice and headed to The Cork 1794 and had the most amazing lunch! But, perhaps best of all, we discovered Icing on the Lake and indulged, more than a bit! lol

So even in a month where I did not get to do what I most wanted to do, I did manage to find good things in October!

Looking Back | September 2020

Looking Back | September 2020

September showed up right on schedule, and lasted a whole month. — Jenny Wingfield

This was a month that I wish felt like February… short and over almost before it began. The days just dragged on and I had the worst case of the blues in September. It was hard to find one thing good in any of the 30 days and even in this look back there are few things. It feels like each day is an exercise in finding  something to distract me from my sadness. I am missing my family terribly and September was especially bad. I missed Heidi’s 30th Birthday (because, honestly… a call is just not the same as being there), Winston is growing *rapidly* and it feels like I am missing all.the.things. And I know there are so many of you who are going through the same things I am and I think about you every day… and I wonder will we get through this? How will this change us? I can’t imagine that any of us will be better for this enforced separation.

Thing I was most surprised by —

The smoke from the fires out west making its way here and  impacting our skies (and the air we breathe). It made me understand better how this was impacting those living in the midst of the fires. And it made me more worried for my daughter who lives near San Francisco (as if I needed one more thing to worry about, but worry more I did.)

Thing I was most grateful for —

Winston has been smiling, but not on “cue” or not when my daughter had her phone (of course, lol) but there was a moment and she managed to get one on camera!

Thing that “got me through” but there is no image —

The book club from my church. This month our Dear Church Zoom Conversations have helped me tremendously. Being in a group of people who are trying to find ways to be a better ally was better than I imagined. And though we finished our book discussion, October will bring continued discussions with a broader group of participants. I am nervous, but very excited to continue this journey.

And with that… my look back at September is over. Happy Monday everyone!

 

 

Looking Back | August 2020

Looking Back | August 2020

“The month of August had turned into a griddle where the days just lay there and sizzled.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

Yes, this quote perfectly sums up what August was for me…a month of sizzling, never ending heat. By months end, my gardens were all looking rather fried. We did have some significant rainfall that made all the weeds leap to life seemingly overnight, but do you think I did any weeding? Yeah, that would be a big N-O, lol.

We also found ourselves at the six month mark of Pandemic times. My state went on “lock down” on March 15, but my house started at the beginning of March. The days have a familiar rhythm and it is hard to think back to what “life before COVID” was like. It almost seems like another lifetime ago. But some of the changes are so very good. I feel like a smarter shopper now, with a major shop about every 3 weeks. Yes, I pick up “fill in” items… veggies and fruits. But my garden provided loads of fresh beans, some incredibly delicious orange peppers, and a plethora of tomatoes. And all that helped reduce the “extra trips” out.

But some of these changes are just very bad, there is no way to sugar coat not seeing my kids and while I am extremely thankful for FaceTime, texting, and phone calls… it is really not a substitute for being together in person. It pains me to say that this will likely be “reality” at least through the end of this year and it is the thing that makes me the most depressed.


The Best Part of the Month

This, ironically, was not something I did… but rather something Vivi’s chicken did! Yes, one of those Easter chicks laid its first egg! There was much joy and excitement in this feat and it might have been one of the best photos I got all month!

Something New

Zoom Knitting seems to be here for the duration, and this month we finally got “smart” (yes, even knitters can take 6 months to get their act together!) One of our members had moved away, and we finally figured out a day and time that worked for everyone, her included! So Knit Night now seems like one of the best things as hearing her escapades again make for some much needed laughter. No one tells a story quite like Julia does!

Best “Oh, Wow” Moment/s

The August skies absolutely came through with the “Oh, Wow” factor! And they reminded me that looking up is always a good idea! They kicked “ho hum” mornings in the pants! And for those “end of the day” moments… well sometimes they provided that last needed thing for my daily gratitude list.

What I did Well and What I can do Better

Sadly, August had no “I did this well” moments. But boy do I have a list of things I can do better. While there are no photos here, August was a month that I learned the hard way that my opinion not something anyone needs… ever. I read some of the best reminders of this on your blogs this month… along with the reminder that there is no prize for martyrdom. Oy. There is a part of me that is very, very glad August is over… and with it, hopefully, my incredible talent for being the truly most obnoxious ass in North America. My goal for September centers around this quote:

Thinking doesn’t hurt. Words DO. — Anna Maledon

And that is my August… even the not so pretty parts. See you all back here on Wednesday!

Looking Back | July 2020

Looking Back | July 2020

In summertime, when the weather is hot, you can reach right up and touch the sky. — Mungo Jerry

Oh, July. I will not miss your incredibly hot, dry days. July was one very long run on day… an endless repeat of heat and humidity. I almost bailed on this look back post because, well, on month four of Covid-19-stay-at-home there were not a lot of “new” or “expanding my world” days. But Mary’s post convinced me otherwise. Perhaps a celebration of “all things at home” is exactly what I need to do!

Something new

The best new thing was the fried green beans for happy hour on the 23rd. After doing a little research, I settled on this recipe. Yes, it was a little work, but it was so worth it. The batter was light and crispy and the dip was excellent. (I subbed about a half teaspoon of tabasco sauce for the wasabi powder) If you have an abundance of beans and want to try something different, I highly recommend trying Almost Famous Green Bean Fries!

Best “Oh, Wow” moment/s

The early hours in the garden were absolutely my favorite times. Though most mornings started in the upper 70’s temperature wise, it was much better than the upper 90’s of the afternoons! I savored those moments outdoors because the remainder of the day was spent hibernating inside sitting in the air conditioning!

What I could have done better

I did manage to finish one project in July, but there are so many “lingering” projects that should be getting some attention! Instead, I spent lots of time in the tranquility of Knitlandia (my AC island). Here is to an August with less “checking out” time and more focused making!

The best part of the month

Hands down, the best part of the month were my grandchildren (especially Vivi’s birthday on the 21st) and Sherman, who continues to be the best pandemic companion…ever!

Finally, I am  thankful for this house – which is not the worst place to stay! And how can forget the joy of my local library, who provides an endless stream of books to while away the Pandemic hours with! (and all those Pandemic Happy Hours!)

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